Where there are lonely hearts, there are books, advice and even trinkets to help those lonely hearts find companionship. For gentlemen, the Pick Up Girls SmartWatch, currently seeking crowdfunding on Indiegogo, claims it can help.
According to the campaign, the watch will hypnotise the wearer into being more confident by sending subliminal messages that constantly tell him how cool and confident he is.
Scanning the Indiegogo page, a few things leap out as crowdfunding red flags, such as the fact that the product photo is a Photoshopped version of the GT08 Apple Watch clone, and there is no mention of a prototype or testing of the hypnosis technology. But, while the product campaign looks suspicious, the psychology behind it could actually work, according to David Keatley, lecturer in psychology at University of Lincoln in the UK, who specialises in hypnosis.
"It's all about your belief system. This is a large part of hypnosis -- your beliefs. If you believe hypnosis will work, it will work," he said in an email.
"This is also the placebo effect. If you think something will help, it will help. We are hypothesis supporters -- we form a hypothesis 'this watch will work.' Then we do all we can to prove it: 'See, that girl just looked at me'; 'see, that girl just smiled at me'; 'see, I can speak to women now.' Anyone that has ever had a 'lucky X' (whatever X is) can testify to this bias. We do well because of our lucky mascot? No, we do well because we believe we will."
The watch claims that it can send subliminal messages via audio, and cites several pieces of research, all of which are based on visual subliminal messaging. The idea is that repeated suggestions will gradually have an effect on the wearer's confidence. If he hears often enough that he is confident, he will start to believe it. This sort repetition is used in hypnotherapy, as a motivational technique and in advertising.
But the Pick Up Girls SmartWatch's potential efficacy has very little to do with subliminal messaging, or even hypnosis, Keatley said. Instead, it's acting as a sort of lucky charm, and the wearer's belief in it makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you believe it, it will come true.
"Sadly, that's all the smart watch is doing from what I can see. The suggestion is there from the start 'buy this watch to pick up women' -- if you buy it, you buy into that idea too, and after investing a hefty sum -- chances are you've invested heavily, so you want to be proven correct -- the alternative is to realise you've been a fool," Keatley said.
"Maybe the watch does have some hypno gimmicks, some scripts that help, but most likely it's basic lines and ideas -- the power of the effect comes from the person buying it, and in doing so buying into a belief system that they can change, that they are successful, that now they have the ability to talk to women."
It doesn't look like the Pick Up Girls SmartWatch is going to succeed. At time of writing, 10 days into its crowdfunding campaign, it has raised precisely $0 of its $10,000 funding goal. But if you absolutely must have a physical item that will help you feel more confident, all is not lost. As Keatley points out, any object will do, so long as you believe in it.
"The watch could be a pen, a clip, a cufflink, anything -- if you steep it with the same sales pitch (which you can do), then it will have a similar effect," he said. "Without seeing the hypnotherapy element of the watch, I cannot comment on what the hypnotic script is like... but I don't need to, seeing how they're advertising it, they'd get successes because the people buying the watch are buying into the idea that the watch will help them."
Art Glass, the creator of the Pick Up Girls SmartWatch, did not respond to CNET's request for comment.